Leeds United 0-0 Chelsea: Blues stutter to surprising stalemate in an engrossing encounter

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The clock struck twelve on Thomas Tuchel's unbeaten start as Chelsea manager as his side drew with Leeds United on Saturday afternoon at Elland Road in the Premier League.

The German will however be puzzled as to how his team won't be returning to London with all three points, as the profligate Blues were dominant in possession and had a number of chances they should have buried - most notably a glorious chance effort that Kai Havertz both fashioned and subsequently snatched at.

Of most alarm to the new Chelsea boss will be how it could have so easily been an empty-handed coach ride home. After being saved by the offside flag six minutes in, Edouard Mendy's magnificent saves from Tyler Roberts in the first half and Raphinha in the second could have so easily been two goals conceded with a goalkeeper of lesser quality.

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A number of late challenges on Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell within the first couple of minutes set the tone for the war to come, as the home side were keen to impress their intensity and play host to a physical battle.

The game would spark into life five minutes in. The lesser-spotted Christian Pulisic drove at the Leeds defence and flashed in a low ball that was stabbed towards goal by Kai Havertz, but the German could only scuff it into the clutches of Illan Meslier.

Within a matter of seconds, the ball was inexplicably in the back of the Chelsea net with the visitors caught napping. A cute ball in behind found Patrick Bamford clear and he squared for Tyler Roberts to roll it home. The Blues blushes were spared by the offside flag, as replays showed Andreas Christensen's gamble to step up paid off.

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Pulisic would again fizz a driven ball into the six-yard box five minutes later for Meslier to palm clear. With the rumour mill in overdrive this week, Thomas Tuchel had moved quick to assure fans that the American figures into his plans - this was Pulisic showing why as he ran Ezgjan Alioski ragged.

Once again, Leeds daringly sprung forward instantly. The result was almost spectacular. Roberts attempted an audacious looping shot over a giant Edouard Mendy, who did well to tip on to the bar at full-stretch. The Chelsea goalkeeper will have been relieved that the ball did not cannon off his back as it came back off the upright.

As Roberts hacked Jorginho down for the first yellow card of the game, it allowed everyone to take their first breath (this writer included) after an incredible end-to-end start to proceedings. The heavens started to open shortly after, which promised to add another intriguing dynamic to a fascinating game.

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With 27 minutes gone, N'Golo Kanté made a lung-busting surge forward before trying to bend the ball into the top of the net. It would be deflected behind for a Chelsea corner.

Former Blues man Bamford was limping around in the right-back role, having innocuously picking up a foot injury. The home sides' talisman valiantly tried to play on, but he'd go down again five minutes later before being replaced by £27m record signing Rodrigo.

Chelsea finished the half with a trio of half-chances, with Antonio Rüdiger unable to react quickly enough to a corner falling at his feet on the penalty spot coming either side of a decent 20-yard attempt by Chilwell and Havertz firing into the goalkeeper from a delicious ball from Hakim Ziyech.

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There was much for Thomas Tuchel to chew on as the referee sounded the half-time whistle. His side had had the better of the first period, but had been unable to find the breakthrough whilst the opposition had shown why they are to be feared on the counter.

Nonetheless, Chelsea started the second half brightly and really should have taken the lead just two minutes in. Havertz found himself in acres of space and lashed the ball towards goal to draw a reflex save from Meslier. Had the German gone for placement over power, Chelsea would have taken the lead.

They'd almost do so on a number of occasions a short time after - firstly through a dangerous cross from Chilwell which the Leeds goalkeeper flapped at. Ziyech would curl the ball back in for Havertz to fashion out a weak header, before N'Golo Kanté opted to try and find the former Leverkusen man instead of taking it on himself.

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If the match had been all Chelsea for the better part of half an hour, Leeds were next to fire off a warning shot. Rodrigo cushioned his header down for Raphinha to get a snapshot off on goal. Edouard Mendy pulled out an excellent save that he perhaps had no right to get a strong hand to, in another display of his value to the Pensioners since arriving in the summer from Rennes.

Thomas Tuchel was inspired into a double substitution in the 68th minute, with Reece James and Timo Werner entering the fray for Pulisic and Ziyech. The latter again failed to hit the heights expected of him, and none more so than the Moroccan will be disappointed that his Chelsea career has failed to ignite thus far.

With twenty minutes remaining, German centre-back Rüdiger found himself on a hustle forward with no options to pass to. He adventurously decided to smash a dipping effort towards goal, well-met by a Meslier having one of his better days.

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Leeds would again threaten, with Reece James making a vital block and Mendy equal to a free header for Rodrigo. Marcelo Bielsa was seemingly enraged by the Spanish international's tame effort, hooking the striker whom he subbed on in the first half. Tuchel would respond by taking Mason Mount off for Callum Hudson-Odoi, as both sides looked to clinch a winner at the death.

There was no lack of intent, but neither side was able to create a golden opportunity in the final ten minutes. There'll be a sense of disappointment for Thomas Tuchel and Blues fans, with Liverpool and Everton now offered an opportunity to catch up in the top four race even despite Chelsea dispatching them both in recent weeks. Two points dropped.


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